Defacing Hejduk

International
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
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Hejduk's Kreuzberg complex in happier days. (Courtesy architectureinberlin)

The late John Hejduk, dean of Cooper Union, a member of the Texas Rangers, and an influential member of the New York Five, built very few buildings, preferring to leave architectural ideas on paper. But he did build several housing projects in Berlin as part of the influential IBA program, and now one of his finest projects, the Kreuzberg Tower from 1988, is being defaced by its new owners in the name of “improvement.” Kazys Varnelis sends word that a petition is being created to protest this destruction. The effort is being led in part by Hejduk’s daughter Renata, an architectural historian who urged the new owners to halt the work, but apparently received a rude response. According to architectureinberlin, Renata explained: “I tried everything I could to get them to stop and at least consult with the Estate and other architects who were interested in helping to preserve them. They were completely uninterested and felt their facade changes would be much better than the original.”  Help save the tower by spreading the word, signing the petition, and putting pressure on the new owners to reconsider their actions. You can see the terrible plans after the jump. Read More

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Angels Flight In Black and White

West
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
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Angels Flight Circa 1910, Courtesy Dace Taub

Our friends at Curbed LA reported that Downtown LA’s legendary funicular Angel’s Flight finally re-opened yesterday after a 9 year hiatus (it closed in 2001 after an accident killed a tourist). The Victorian-era Flight, known as the “world’s shortest railway,” at 315 feet, was built in 1901 and has seen several iterations, the latest of which is being operated by Angels Flight Railway. It received its LA Public Utilities Commission safety approval earlier this month, so we consider it safe enough for our intrepid transit expert Alissa Walker to try it out. Stay tuned for her upcoming essay on the ride. To help you wait it out, check out a couple of our favorite photo compilations,  here and here, of the Flight when it was first built. Especially fun to look at the now-defunct Victorians of Bunker Hill, the ornate masonry buildings, the city trolleys, and the great Victorian outfits.

CA Expert: Recovery, But Not Till Year End

West
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
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UCLA's Jerry Nickelsburg.

California’s recovery is underway, but don’t expect the state’s construction activity to return to pre-recession numbers any time soon. That was the message from Jerry Nickelsburg, a senior economist with the UCLA Anderson Forecast, at the Allen Matkins Construction Trends 2010 conference held in Downtown LA last week. Nickelsburg confirmed the national recession did end last summer, with the nation’s gross domestic product up nearly 6 percent in the last quarter, but financial markets still are healing, he said. Read More

Swallowed by the Green Monster

East
Monday, March 15, 2010
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The Rose Kennedy Greenway has yet to take root, at least not from a land-use perspective. (Danielle Walquist/Flickr)

The Rose Kennedy Greenway was supposed to transform downtown Boston, and while the Big Dig has had some impact on traffic, its above ground success have been far fewer, at least in the three years since the project was completed. At least two major developments have been forestalled because of competing demands on the Greenway’s open space, which itself has not been a smashing success, and now the Boston Globe reports the demise of yet another cultural institution that had been planned for the 1.5-mile park. The latest loss is the New Center for Arts and Culture, an $80 million project designed by Daniel Libeskind that was meant to foster diversity and dialogue between disparate groups. Other of the glassy, glitzy victims—blame falls largely on poor fundraising due to the economy—include a new YMCA, Garden Under Glass, and the Boston Museum, which has since relocated to a different site where it also struggles to get off the ground. After the jump, a graphic from the Globe breaks the blunders down. Read More

Less is More on Lakeshore

Midwest
Monday, March 15, 2010
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Photographers and videographers William Zbaren and Robert Sharoff interviewed architect Ron Krueck about his firm’s restoration of Mies van der Rohe’s  towers at 860-880 Lake Shore Drive, better known as the Lake Shore Drive apartments. Krueck, a principal at Krueck + Sexton Architects, calls the towers “revolutionary” for their time for their delicacy and lightness. The video is accompanied by beautiful photographs of the exteriors and grounds.

Origami On Steroids

West
Friday, March 12, 2010
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Last night, thanks to our friends at deLab, we were lucky to check out one of the coolest paper structures ever assembled, called Fat Fringe. Hung from the ceiling of the new Fix Gallery in LA’s Pico Union, the die-cut canopy was put together by a team of loyal contributors who sliced, punched, and folded the structure (made up of 800 inter-connected origami-like components). The project was organized by LA gallery and arts incubator Materials and Applications, and was developed by designers Lisa Little and Emily White of the firm Layer. The wavy collection of white paper seems to morph into hundreds of fluttering shapes and it’s especially fun to see how light tries to make its way through, glowing, reflecting, and creating beams of light and mesmerizing shadows in the process. Layer will create another ambitious installation (this time made of more durable materials than paper ) for M+A’s outdoor courtyard this summer. Check out more pictures of Fat Fringe via deLab’s Marissa Gluck below: Read More

Restroom Raves

West
Friday, March 12, 2010
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The colorful bathroom at Déja Vu Erotic Lounge

Finally, the roundup we’ve all been waiting for… Las Vegas Weekly just shared its five favorite Vegas nightclub bathrooms. Yes, the toilet has always been a particularly rich muse for design in Sin City, and let us tell you these ones don’t disappoint. The Vanity Nightclub at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, for instance, has  flat screens over the urinals, faux reptile-skin walls, and giant blinking eye graphics. Another favorite is the loo at Déja Vu Erotic Ultra Lounge, where unisex (yes unisex) restrooms, hidden behind a waterfall, have LED lights that change color inside stalls with glass doors that fog up when locked. The ladies stall at the Mix Lounge at the Hotel at Mandalay Bay offers floor-to-ceiling windows that look out on the glittering Vegas Strip. Who knew you could have so much fun in a Vegas Bathroom? Well, scratch that. A lot of people do..

Pritzkers on eBay

East, East Coast
Thursday, March 11, 2010
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Bauble or board game?

On Monday, September 15, 2008, Herzog & de Mueron’s 56 Leonard Street was unveiled. That same day, Lehman Brothers collapsed. As you can guess, this Jenga-like tower never got off the ground—if anything, the Tribeca luxury tower was the exclamation point capping off the real estate bubble in the city. And yet now is your lucky opportunity to buy into the project: Curbed tipped us off to an eBay sale of one of 300 limited edition models of the project—#37 to be exact. Taking the Jenga theme to an extreme, the model actually comes apart, so its 145 pieces (one for each floor/residence) provide “a means of exploring the tower’s radically innovative design.” The model even has a replica Anish Kapoor sculpture at its base, just as the tower was supposed to, a symbol of the excess of the times that’s now seen as bad taste. Amazingly, there must still be demand for design even in these rough times, as bidding, which Curbed said started at a penny, is up to $187.50. Is there no end to the madness?

UPDATE: Apparently not. No sooner did we hit publish than the auction jumped 8 bids and the price now stands at $228.50. And this is only after the first day. Are we looking at a bubble here?

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There First

East
Thursday, March 11, 2010
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Designed by Elemental Architecture (then The Stein Partnership) Rescue 1, completed in 1988, is the first facility designed for a rescue company. (Courtesy Eduard Hueber)

My story on Rescue 3′s new firehouse in the Bronx, designed by Polshek Partnership, alleged that it was the first such facility ever designed specifically for a rescue company’s needs. Alas, that assertion was woefully wrong. In 1987, Elemental Architecture (then The Stein Partnership) designed the new headquarters for Rescue Company 1—the first rescue company in the world. Located on West 43rd St. in Manhattan, the building includes many features tailored to the elite unit’s needs. These include a quick release system that allows the company’s Zodiac boat to be dropped from the ceiling and attached to the top of the apparatus, a decontamination shower (now a standard feature for FDNY and many other fire departments), and a SCUBA recharging station. Read More

Tipping Over Domino

East
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
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Is Domino decaying before our eyes?

Even with its generous amounts of affordable housing—30 percent of some 2,200 units, as opposed to 20 percent—the New Domino project surrounding the former Domino sugar refinery on the Williamsburg waterfront has faced stiff opposition from the community, as we reported in Issue 02 earlier this year. The local community remains opposed to the project’s density and lack of infrastructure to support all those new residents in towers designed by Rafael Viñoly that reach 40 stories, twice as tall as the iconic Domino refinery they will surround. Community Board 1 reaffirmed its opposition last night, when it voted 23-12 against the project. Our pal Aaron Short has an insanely detailed blow-by-blow over on his blog, but it all basically boils down—not unlike most of the board’s decisions on land-use matters—that the project is just too damn big. Meanwhile Read More

Childs Anchors Atlantic Yards?

East
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
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Might a 1- or 7-WTC-style building by David Childs one day replace some of those ghost towers behind SHoP's rendering of their Atlantic Yards arena?

The Brooklyn Paper bumped into David Childs last week, during the opening of his SOM colleague Roger Duffy’s new Toren condo tower, and the BKP is reporting the surprising news that both could possibly be working on some of the 16 residential towers proposed for Bruce Ratner’s nearby Atlantic Yards development.

“First, he brought me in to look at the arena design, which I think is very good now,” Childs said, referring to the current design collaboration between Ellerbe Becket and SHoP Architects. “And then we talked about working together on the residential buildings,” added Childs.

Read More

Holomodels

National
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
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The future has let us down in so many ways—still waiting on that jet pack you promised, Hollywood!—but this sweet new gadget should tide us over for a little while, at least. Straight out of Star Trek, it was demonstrated at last month’s SPAR 2010 conference in Houston by Austin-based company Zebra Imaging. The technology produces strikingly realistic holographic models, printed on two-dimensional sheets of plastic. Each hologram is the product of thousands of still images, stored in any format from satellite photographs to (calling all architects!) CAD models. These images are then compiled and printed onto a sheet of photographic film up to two feet wide and three feet long. Read More

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